Browsing Survival Rules

You might be sure your are safe on the Internet. You might be sure closing the door and putting the foil on you window is pretty enough to protect your privacy. You may use a special sticker to hide your face from the webcam (that is actually not a bad idea), but you are still vulnerable. Using some tips below you might feel in a safer environment.

First issue meets you when you switch on your PC. What operating system is loading? Putting the GRUB aside, in almost 90% of cases the OS is Windows. Doesn't matter what Windows version are you using, they are rather keen to have troubles, and latest news can proof that. WannaCry wasn't that long time ago, you know.

In 8% of cases you are using MacOS, and Apple faggots drinking their Starbucks coffee will tell you they have the most protected OS ever, but they don't know the system is BSD-based, and used the benefits of the *nix. But is still remains too closed, and you should be aware in what it can bring to you. You are tracked, you are trapped.

2% use GNU/Linux, and well, some distributions have vulnerable soft to track you activity. The good example is Ubuntu - the Debian based distribution. Canonical - the company developing and sponsoring Ubuntu (but not its derivatives like Kubuntu, Xubuntu or Lubuntu from the year 2012 or something). They have been widely criticized for putting some third-parties modules like online search. This may lead to data leak, so basically if you want to be sure the information is safe you should keep in mind using the community-based distribution without any serious concerns. We will talk later more about that.

All the stats provided by Netmarketshare.

Ok, I am not the sociopath with an axe (yes, I don't have an axe, and that's it), so I won't insist on the OS, these are just similar recommendations everyone can get just reading tech news. I am advising also not to look at Chrome OS as well as the Chromium-based browsers.

I don't want to start the new holy war about the browsers or their engines, everyone decides for himself. Unfortunately, Mozilla makes some errors Google/Alphabet did before them. From my point of view and in my humble opinion of course. I am not a fan of some latest changes: Persona and Firefox OS projects closed, Pocket is introduced, e10s (multi-process) is enabled by default and you can not now disable it even in about:config - nothing more happens. And if Pocket can be hidden - e10s will follow you as like as on Chromium.

Just for me the way Webkit (or Blink, whatever) engine works is not good enough, the resource usage and the speed of page processing. That is one point of opinion. The major one in what stays behind the Chrome (proprietary software instead of FOSS analogue Chromium). Dozens of rows of closed source written by a company with wants to know everything about everyone with a damn particular success. You voluntarily provide the information about the every site you browse, every query you input, every single click, scroll etc. And that is not just in my paranoia, that is mostly used for targeting.

You might say: "Oh, I am too OK to see the relevant adds, and I have nothing to hide", but if you have nothing to hide, scratch the credit card number, expiry date and CVV2 code on your door and put your toilet just on the main city square. It is ridiculous and a bit absurd but in general it is the same. Web-nudity is like the real one. Consequences are just different.

You ought to be safe surfing the web. Putting the helmet on your head, gloves on your arms and stylish black glasses is not enough. I advice switching to open and free (as in free speech and freedom, not like the free beer, but actually it is free of charge as well) browsers. Firefox is a good example of such browser even after those Mozilla mistakes (in my mind). Tor (Firefox-based) is a good browser too if you want to hide your identity, but if you just want to protect your privacy (those are different things) - you should give Firefox a try,

I will continue with describing the add-ons I am using and most important settings, but that is just an opinion. Note, please, some add-ons are pre-enabled in Tor, and where transferred to my Firefox after seeing them in Tor.

  1. "Do not track me" option
  2. This one is a built-in Firefox feature to 'tell' the websites not to track your activity. Pre-enabled in Privacy mode, can be enabled in normal mode: Menu->Options->Privacy and Security->Tracking protection is there. You should put "Always" for both questions. Of course, if protection works always, "Only when using Ttacking Protection" equals "Always", but it is just a click, and probably the way to be more sure.

  3. DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials
  4. Firstly, you should switch your search engine to DDG or Startpage. DDG was kindly advised and recommended by my ideology colleague. Switched to it rather fast and will tell more about benefits of using DuckDuckGo in the coming days - this add-on gives a score to the sites you visit, A to F like at school. It tries to block all the proprietary JS scripts, trackers and much more.

  5. uBlock Origin
  6. You may interject and tell you are using the AdBlock, which is powerful and blah-blah-blah, but well, it consumes system resources more, it sells the "place in the whitelist", while uBlock Origin just works. It is GPLv3 add-on, so means you are free to modify, study and share under the same license. Free as in Freedom. And it works. It is a simple app which does what the user wants - it blocks ads. With low resources.

  7. Privacy Badger and HTTPS Everywhere
  8. These add-ons are presented by the EFF - the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the foundation to fight for digital rights and freedoms. They are in game for a ling time, and also provide HTTPS certificates for free.

    Privacy Badger as well as DDG Security Essentials disables the tracking, but in this case you may choose what external scripts you are OK to block. In most cases it is about Facebook and Google. Coincidence? I don't think so.

    HTTPS Everywhere tries to see if there is a version of the site you visit on the 443 port or simply (as it is obvious from the add-on name) the https-version, which is useful to secure online payments for example, or to protect yourself from vulnerable JS scripts even more.

This addons might cause some browsing issues. For example, if the site is using non-free JS scripts and some services with activity trackers - these parts won't just appear on the page. And I can't say it is something bad.

Probably I should add some pics of the the apps to show their interface, but in most cases you should just open a search on about:addons and type the names. And yes, all these add-ons should be available for Chromium and Chrome.

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